Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Straight No Chaser
I have a new obsession this holiday season. I talked about it in my last Friday Fragments. I accidentally discovered Straight No Chaser. It's a men's a cappella singing group. The founding member, Dan Ponce, started the group at Indiana University in 1996. The group has continued as part of IU but Dan Ponce also took the group outside of the college campus setting and has formed a professional group made up of original members and members of the college group that have since graduated. This article from the NY Times tells the story better than I can! They have a Christmas album from last year that I've not heard (Holiday Spirits) but I am thoroughly enjoying the newly released Christmas Cheers. Their music is just plain old fun. A lot of the songs are upbeat and a little silly or quirky. Some are more somber or in tune with the calm of the season. But I just smile while listening. *** Also in this year's Christmas music repertoire is Amy Grant's Christmas Collection. She does the Streisand version of Jingle Bells, I love Breath of Heaven and the classic hymns like Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and O Come All Ye Faithful. And while Kelly Clarkson's version seems to be the hit this year, Amy's original take on Grown Up Christmas List is a favorite, too. *** I also picked up Enya's And Winter Came but I'll be honest- I've not listened to it yet. It's not that I don't want to... it's that I've lost it somewhere in my minivan. I have listened to the little teaser tracks on Amazon and if you are an Enya fan, like I am, it sounds divine. I'd love to be relaxed at my desk at work, the ethereal sounds of holiday Enya in my ears... *** I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the stations that play all Christmas music. I do flip past them but I'm finding that I don't stay on them. For me, Christmas music is best when it's the old classics. And by old classics, I'm really looking at the church music that was so special to sing in service each year. The "standards" are nice and they capture this little sliver of the holiday spirit and the feeling everyone wants. But it's the songs about angels and shepherds and wisemen and kings and a baby and a virgin and a stable... those are the songs I love the most. And my holiday season isn't complete if I don't get to hear The Hallelujah Chorus at least once. I prefer to pop in my CD of the entire Messiah. And what I would really, really love is the chance to sing the Hallelujah Chorus again... or to be part of the chorus for The Messiah again. And something I would love to do is to go caroling. Be it walking down the street on a cold night, caroling and asking for canned goods for the local food pantry or going with a group to sing at nursing homes or whatever... I miss being part of that kind of singing group. It was an important part of my childhood and high school and college years. Being part of the music team at church has gotten me back in touch with that passion and I need to keep digging. *** How does music play a part in your holiday celebrations?